Men with no names are men with sin. They’ve seen things. They’ve done things. The hateful world they walk shaped them into cold-hearted creatures who, more often than not, choose to protect themselves rather than those around them. The first two episodes of The Mandalorian present its protagonist (Pedro Pascal) as a bounty killer trading flesh for coin and Beskar steel. He’d happily exist next to many of Clint Eastwood’s selfish marauders if not for the fact that we saw him return his booty in order to aid the young foundlings cared for by his clan.
Mando (the cute moniker gifted to him by his handler Greef Carga) is a man of sin, but he’s also a man of heart. Saddle him with a force-wielding Yoda cub, and you got a recipe for transformation. No way he’s gonna hand over that adorable greenie munchkin to Werner Herzog‘s wretched Imperial goose stepper! Like the rest of the Internet, he’s fallen under the Muppet’s spell.
At the end of Chapter 3, Mando does what the audience wants him to do. He rescues the kid from the clutches of Stormtroopers and stands against his guild. It’s John Wick time. With the odds against him and his back against the wall, he’s made his choice and prepares to die huddled over his tiny care package. Before he is made barbecue, an army of his brothers and sisters rain from the sky. Death from above.
To understand why Mando and his clan came out from hiding guns blazing, declaring war on the leftover scraps of the Empire and the greedy murderers they employ, you have to go back to Revenge of the Sith, Order 66, and The Great Purge. As seen in The Clone Wars cartoon series, the Mandalorian people were once a proud race of warriors who eventually sought peace and freedom from the wars raged by the Republic and the Separatists. When a civil conflict divided their planet, dark forces rekindled their violent tendencies.
While never explicitly shown in either The Clone Wars or Rebels animated series, it is believed that in the time after Darth Sidious took control of the Republic, a puppet government was established on the planet of Mandalore. Rumors suggest that the upcoming Clone Wars relaunch on Disney+ will involve these specific events to tie directly into The Mandalorian, and will lead to The Great Purge referenced by Mando’s clan in Chapters 1 and 3.
We can assume that The Great Purge operated much like the Emperor’s Order 66 which involved the systematic eradication of the Jedi across the galaxy. Those who represented any kind of challenge to his majesty’s authority were deemed enemies of the state and had to go. Mandalore, like the Jedi, could not be allowed to operate independently. Ant meet boot.
At some point after the Republic’s transition into the Empire, Stormtroopers marched upon the streets of Mandalore pillaging the land for their purposes. The Mandalorian’s precious Beskar steel was stolen from them and repurposed into Imperial product. Their culture was ransacked and nearly demolished in total, forcing the few remaining citizens of Mandalore into hiding and careers of nefarious nature.
In Chapter 3, we learn quite a bit more regarding the Mandalorian coven. They gather in secret, below the streets of the unnamed city. When one ventures out, the rest stay hidden. Mando’s success at securing Imperial Beskar makes waves within their pact. Some see his dealings with the Client as a betrayal to their code, but considering their exile, they gotta put food on their table however they can.
The Beskar will be melted in order to armor many, but Mando is gifted a good deal of it as his reward. Gone are his ragged fragments of brown and beige. Now he walks glistening in chrome, catching the eye of every cutthroat in every hive of scum and villainy. However, he cannot wear it proudly, for it weighs too heavily on his conscience. With each free step he takes, little cubby gets closer to having his essence ripped from his body.
As his armor is being crafted, we see another set of flashbacks featuring a young Mando cowering as a battle rages around him. A woman and a man, who are most likely his parents, place him in the confines of a small metal box. As they seal him inside, an explosion erupts outside. The box hatch opens, and a Separatist Super Battle Droid swings an arm cannon in his direction.
Mando knows the pain and terror of a childhood caught in war. All of Mandalore does. They did not pick this life. They had it thrust upon them. To remain in hiding and leave a single foundling to the Imperial meatgrinder would be the true betrayal to themselves and their culture. Weapons are their religion; they might as well use ’em to free the innocent.
“This is the way,” the Mandalorians say to each other. They’re on a road. They cannot deviate from it, nor can they go back. They can only deal with the hands they were given, and try to honor the culture torn from them.